What is Fit Testing and Why is it Important?
For health and safety reasons it is important to know what is Fit Testing and Why fit testing is Important. A face fit test checks if a person’s mask fits their face features and if it can provide an adequate seal to the wearers face. Periodic face-fitting tests on masks should be undertaken because one-off tests do not sufficiently protect workers.
Fit testing is a requirement by the New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 1715 before a user wears a respirator on the job, and this should be assessed at least once a year.
Why is Fit Testing Important?
We all have different face shapes and sizes and our faces also change with time. This can greatly impact on the effectiveness of a tight-fitting respiratory protective equipment. If a mask does not fit well, it will significantly reduce the protection to the wearer, therefore, this explains why Fit Testing is actually important. This leads to reduced protection and consequently puts the wearer in danger or susceptible to immediate or long term ill health.
It is important to have the right Personal Protective Equipment which includes a properly fitted Respiratory Protective Mask when working with hazardous substances e.g asbestos, silica dust, lead dust, fiberglass, etc.
When is Fit Testing Needed?
Repeated Fit testing will need to be done when there is a change in equipment or the facial characteristics of the wearer that could affect the fit. Powered respirators with a visor or hood, (loose-fitting) do need not be face-fit tested but still need to fit observably close to the face.
The fit test done can be either a qualitative fit test or a quantitative fit test.